Great books you should read: LBJ, Portrait of a President.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President

Lyndon Johnson is reviled by both the liberal left and the conservative right in the United States, which is no mean feat. Is it possible for any serious student of US history not to be familiar with the taunt of “Hey! Hey! LBJ, How many kids you kill today?”

And yet without Lyndon Johnson Barack Obama would not be president today.

Viet Nam, with a push from JFK, really kicked off under LBJ. Yet here was a president who had no real interest in foriegn affairs and wanted to eradicate poverty in the US. One facet the book really gets across is the idea that what LBJ really wanted was not to bomb North Viet Nam but to cut a deal with Ho Chi Minh, another politician, as to what was needed to do the business.  In exasperation he used to bawl at his advisors that he would rather be building schools in Viet Nam than bombing it.

Lyndon Johnson was possibly the most corrupt man to ever serve in the presidency, but history speaks for itself. He brought in the 1965 Civil Rights bill knowing full well that it would (And did.) destroy the Democratic Party in the South. But it was the right thing to do, and for that LBJ deserves more gratitude than he gets.    

Robert Dallek’s slim book is a masterful blending of two heavier tomes on LBJ’s life, and another example of how sometimes less is more.

Would a Gallagher win be a vote of confidence for Fianna Fail values?

Sean Gallagher: FF we forgive you.
Sean Gallagher: FF we forgive you.

Today’s poll in the Sunday Business Post is interesting reading for Sean Gallagher, and must surely seal his place in Irish politics as a player even if he doesn’t win the presidential election. What I find interesting is the question as to whether a Gallagher win is basically a sign that the Irish people are willing to begin forgiving Fianna Fail? Now, as I write this, I can already hear the attacks for suggesting this, that I’m trying to smear Gallagher, but the reality is that Gallagher is saying little different from what Fianna Fail has been saying for the last 15 years. Yes, he has distanced himself from the policies of Fianna Fail, but in fairness, so has Eamon O’Cuiv, and he’s the deputy leader of the party, so that’s not really an anti-Fianna Fail thing. He’s pro-business and says that we need to take care of the vulnerable, which is the Fianna Fail line. In fact, if I were Micheal Martin, I’d be shifting uneasily in my leadership seat.

Of course, he could knock the whole thing on the head. Is there anyone who seriously believes that he will not appear on a Fianna Fail ticket within five years, if he’s not elected president? If he rules that out, then that’s a whole different kettle of fish altogether.